There is no doubt that CNC machines rule manufacturing and do incredible things. Long gone are the days in which lines of manual machines are run by workers cranking handles themselves. What will always be present however is the need to get things done fast. Setting up a CNC machine is a much riskier procedure and typically takes longer to accomplish. A manual machine is quicker to set up and the chances of a catastropific disaster are minimal.
When I really sat down and thought about this topic I realised that more than anything else it comes down to the machinist doing the job. Some machinists are just better than others. They care about what there doing and work carefully. These are workers that are responsible and own the quality of the work they do. But why are some guys so good?
I remember back when I started I was passionate about making my own designs but when I first walked into my first machine shop I was overwelmed simply by the amount of stuff that I didnt even know! Most of the tools and equipment were completely unknown to me, it felt like learning a foriegn languge. I was contantly asking questions but at the same time I was begging to run different jobs so that I could try out all the machines. I was thirsty for knowledge and it was for selfish reasons. As I was doing every job all I was thinking of was how could use this new knowledge to work on my own projects. I was building machine set ups in my mind while simutaniously focusing on making the nicest parts I possibly could. It all mattered to me.
However that wasnt a sustainable enough reason to keep working perfect forever. Sure now I could make great parts, but why should I? I mean I was getting payed an apprentice wage in a deadend job to do top quality work. Surprising I never did slack off and looking back the reason was because of the leadership by the tool and die maker who helped to train me. He instilled in me principles of work ethic and he himself worked harder than anybody else in the shop.
The bottom line is a good machinist knows exactly how quickly he can do a given job the key is to inspire him or her to step up to the challenge.